The Island movie review, Michael Bay, Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'The Island'
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"The Island"
2 stars
134 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, July 22, 2005
Directed by Michael Bay

Starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Shawnee Smith

"The Island" nitpicks
that didn't make the review

  • Michael Bay
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Djimon Hounsou
  • Sean Bean
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Remake of...?
    ('79) "Clonus"

     LINKS for this film
    Official siteShowtimes
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    McGregor, Johansson are sexy spare-parts clones running for their lives in brain-dead blockbuster 'The Island'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Director Michael Bay ("The Rock," "Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor") has become the poster boy for everything that's wrong with blockbuster summer movies. As long as his out-sized action fare has expensive explosions, quick-cut chase scenes with spectacular crashes, a few commercial-quotable one-liners, one very hot chick, and several low-angle, slow-motion dolly shots that endlessly circle his heroes, he apparently couldn't care about much else.

    In "The Island," the chase scene is on a hovering rocket-cycle, the hot chick is heart-stopping Scarlett Johansson (hopefully just taking a break from brainier fare like "Lost In Translation"), the dizzying hero shots are of Ewan McGregor, and the plot -- what there is of it -- is about the pair of them discovering they are clones bred as spare parts for rich people.

    Born full-sized, implanted with false memories of a world-wide catastrophe, and living in hope of being selected to leave their enclosed, concrete-and-glass colony for The Island, "nature's last remaining pathogen-free zone," the population of DNA duplicates are kept clueless, sexless and surrounded by product placement (they wear Puma track suits, drink Aquafina water and work on Apple computers). But Lincoln Six-Echo (McGregor) has a defect: He's curious.

    The potential for mixing social commentary into the sci-fi adventure hangs from the film like a ripe fruit that goes unplucked by Bay -- although he seems to think he's tapping into deeper themes by exposing Lincoln to what really happens to his Island-bound friends (they're killed for their organs). Lincoln then breaks out of the facility (the security is insultingly inept) with its next victim, Jordan Two-Delta (Johansson), a girl for whom he has funny forbidden feelings.

    For all the money thrown at the screen as Lincoln and Jordan evade elite commandos (led by Djimon Hounsou) -- who blaze a trail of unnecessary destruction through a futuristic Los Angeles even though their recapture of the clones is supposed to be very hush-hush -- "The Island" is surprisingly dull, often nonsensical and blatantly derivative.

    Much of the connect-the-dots plot is similar to "The Clonus Horror," a laughable, low-budget B-movie bomb from 1979, which fumbled with inferences about the fallacies of the American Dream. Several scenes in "The Island" and the inevitable on-the-run romance (as the clones' hormones kick in) seem lifted from "Logan's Run," another cheesy '70s sci-fi flick, which nonetheless commented on the shallowness of youth culture. "The Island" also cherry-picks story and design elements from "Coma," "Minority Report," "Brave New World" and several other sources with only cursory attempts to disguise them, counting on its target audience being too ignorant to notice.

    With the help of a sympathetic colony worker (comic-reliever Steve Buscemi), the clones track down Lincoln's "sponsor," a famous racecar driver (also McGregor, using his real Scottish accent) with a failing liver. This meeting leads to more discoveries, more high-octane chases, and eventually Lincoln's attempt to shut down the clone farm in a third act so full of holes it's a wonder the film doesn't get tangled up in the projector.

    If Michael Bay was going for a slightly cerebral action thriller -- which he seems to think he was -- "The Island" isn't half as smart as it needed to be. If he was hoping audiences would check their brains at the door, "The Island" fails to earn the courtesy. All the flash and fury add up to few thrills, save one seat-gripping freeway pile-up. (The movie is often unaccountably violent, with a body count that is enormous but largely anonymous and ignored.)

    The best that can be said for the picture is that it looks great (although the rocket-bike chase has surprisingly cheap blue-screen effects), it sounds great, it offers a few glimmers of unnerving near-future possibilities (like surrogate-pregnancy clones), and it has several talented cast members who do what they can with their thin characters amid $100-million worth of shallow Hollywood spectacle.

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